Monday, September 19, 2022

JALEN'S BIG CITY LIFE: Four Chapter Books, an Author Interview, and a Giveaway

 Dorothy Price and I go way back. We were members of the Charlotte SCBWI critique group I don't know how many years ago! I was delighted to share her debut picture book, Nana's Favorite Things, and today I'm happy to share her new chapter book series, JALEN'S BIG CITY LIFE (Capstone: August 2022). The bright, lively illustrations are by Shiane Salabie

Each three-chapter book begins by introducing 7-year-old Jalen, his family, friends, and his city apartment. Every book shows Jalen on an adventure in which he has a problem to solve. Written for K-2 readers, there is a glossary, activity, and two pages titled "Let's Talk" and "Let's Write." Teachers will love how these pages can be used to build on their students' reading experience.


Jalen's got a problem. He wants to go with his grandparents to the Flower Festival but he also wants to go to the zoo with his friends. He decides he can do both until delays make him nervous. He finds a way to resolve the situation and in the end, gets to share a special flower with his friends. 

BONUS: Nana is a botanist and Pop-Pop changes baby Maya's diaper.


Responsible kid that he is, J.C. volunteers to help his mother with the laundry. But, when there's only one unoccupied machine he doesn't quite follow her instructions. He loads all of the dirty clothes into the machine and since there are extra clothes...that calls for extra detergent, right? Wrong! When the washing machine overflows, J.C. finds the maintenance man. Between the two of them, they suck up the suds and J.C. learns an important lesson. 

BONUS: Without preaching to the reader, J.C. learns there are consequences to not following directions.

J.C. and his classmates are excited about going to the Famous Black Americans Museum. He's doubly excited because his artist father is one of the chaperones. But things get tricky when J.C.'s group gets separated from the other students. Fortunately, J.C. had studied a map and was able to lead his group through the museum. The kids are inspired by the men and women they learn about and J.C. saves the day.

BONUS: The fun page at the end when J.C.'s father can't find his way home.


Since baseball used to be J.C's favorite sport in his old neighborhood, he signs up to be on a community team--expecting he'll impress his friends with his skills. But things don't turn out as he plans. After he strikes out and doesn't get to show off his pitching talents, he feels bad. In the end, he gets a home run but tells his friends that the best part was playing with his friends.

BONUS: I loved it when J.C. gave up his goal of being the best and decided to play in order to have fun. YAY, J.C!  (And YAY for Dorothy who wrote that line.😀)


CAROLWhat was your inspiration for Jalen and his adventures? 

DOROTHY: The inspiration for this series came from personal experience visiting my grandmother, aunts, and cousin in New York City growing up. I spent many weekends in their apartment building and had tons of wonderful memories to lean on.

CAROL: How did you find Capstone? Did you query them or find their call for submissions through Twitter? 

DOROTHY: Jalen's Big City Life was the result of my former agent submitting a picture book I wrote, that the editors passed on. But since the setting was similar to a series they were looking to publish, they asked me if I was interested in writing it. And of course, I said, yes!

CAROL: I know Capstone publishes for the school/library market. Did you write these as work-for-hire? Were there specific guidelines you had to follow in terms of vocabulary or Lexile level? 

DOROTHY: Yes, the series was a work-for-hire. But I doubt I would have been selected, had it not been for my agent. And yes, there were specific vocabulary, sentence lengths, and Lexile levels specifically for grades K-2. That was new for me, but I always wanted to write chapter books, so I enjoyed learning the process since it is different from writing picture books.

CAROLDid you pick the subject matter for each book or did Capstone?

DOROTHY Capstone wanted a Black boy joy chapter book series (set in a big city) and that's pretty much all they gave me to go on. So I created a list of story ideas, and they selected the four they liked best. Those ideas became the four that are now published!

CAROL: How did winning the We Need Diverse Mentorship program further your writing career?

DOROTHY Winning the mentorship was the confirmation I needed to keep writing after years of rejection. Had I not entered the mentorship program, I never would've won, which may have been the end of my writing career. So I have to give a huge thank you to Tara Cattie for nudging me to apply!

For more information about Dorothy, visit her website or read this interview on the Capstone website.  You can also find her on Twitter


To celebrate Dorothy's debut chapter books, I'm going to give you lots of chances to win this four-book set. Make sure you leave your name and email address in the comments if you are new to my blog. Every week folks leave anonymous entries (or just a first name) and these won't qualify. You can also email me if you don't want to share your email publicly.

1. If you follow my blog and leave a comment I'll count your name twice.

2. If you become a new follower I'll count your name three times.

3. If you share this post on social media, I'll give you an extra chance. Make sure you tell me what you do!

4. If you are a teacher, media specialist, or home school educator I'll give you another extra chance. 

GIVEAWAY ENDS 8 PM on September 21st. So get, moving!


Terri DeGezelle Michels said...

Carol, Thank you for the good job you are doing and for being a friend to so many. Terri

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Terri, for your comment and for faithfully following my blog. The list starts with your name twice!

Danielle H. said...

I have written for Capstone also and enjoyed knowing my work would be published. I'm excited to read your books! I shared on tumblr:

Marci said...

Oh my goodness!! These books look fabulous! What a great idea for a series--I even laughed about the laundry episode described in the blog! Congrats, Dorothy!!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Marci. You're in twice!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Danielle. I didn't know you'd written for Capstone. Your name goes in three times--thanks for sharing and following!

Lois said...

The laundry episode was familiar to me because my daughter did almost the same thing when she was young. Fortunately the washing machine was still under warranty so the repair was covered.

Lauren Parsons said...

Lauren Parsons (Elementary School Librarian ��

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for leaving your contact information, Lauren. Your name goes in twice!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Lois, Your name goes in twice as a faithful follower!

Gail Hurlburt said...

These books look so cute! My youngest granddaughter would love them. Please enter my name.

Carol Baldwin said...

You're in, Gail, with 2 chances. Thanks for following my blog!

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